6 Tips For Hiking with Your Dog for the First Time
By Canada Pooch on Jun 22, 2022
Hiking with your dog is a wonderful pastime for you to share. It's a fantastic way to get some exercise while experiencing a new environment full of exciting stimuli! That said, dog hiking requires a little more preparation than your typical dog walk. You need to be aware of trail etiquette, bring the proper dog hiking gear and prepare for the weather and the terrain you'll face in the great outdoors! These tips will help you, and your dog have a safe and successful hiking experience.
1. Research your trail
Before heading out on a dog hike, do some research to locate the perfect trail. Check local bylaws to ensure dogs are permitted on the trail, and make sure you know the leash policy. Will your dog be comfortable with other off-leash dogs if you encounter them? If not, look for a trail that stipulates dogs must remain on-leash.
Apps like All Trails and Gaia GPS make it easy to locate trail maps, read reviews of the hike, and gauge whether it will be a good fit for you and your dog. Pay attention to trail lengths and the hiking times other hikers reported since it won't necessarily match what the app suggests. Depending on your dog and how often they like to stop and start, it may take you longer to complete the hike than it would for a solo hiker. Getting all the information allows you to be properly prepared for a dog hike.
2. Pack food and water
Keeping your dog hydrated is essential for maintaining their stamina and preventing heat stroke on a hike. Always pack water (even for short hikes!) so you can offer your pup a refreshment if they need one.
Packing a small amount of food or dog treats is a good idea as well. Whether you need to give your dog a quick energy boost or incentivize them to stay on their best behavior, food comes in handy. Stash a few of your dog's favorite snacks in your daypack or in our fanny pack which comes with a lined treat pocket! Hiking with dog essentials will ensure you are prepared for anything.
3. Dress your pup in the right dog hiking gear
Between the hot sun and physical exertion, summer hikes can be very warm. Many owners wonder what their dog should wear during hiking. The following items will help your dog stay cool, comfortable, and protected on any hike.
Cooling harness: The Chill Seeker Cooling Harness is a functional, no-pull harness with leash attachment points on the chest and between the shoulders. It keeps your dog cool using an evaporative cooling effect that occurs when you add water!
Dog boots: Dog boots can help protect your pup's paws from rough terrain or hot pavement that could otherwise scratch or burn their delicate pads. Our Hot Pavement Boots have rubber grip soles with drainage holes so dogs can wear them comfortably when wet or in and out of the water.
Dog hat: Our Chill Seeker Cooling Hat keeps the sun out of your pup's eyes and uses the evaporation method to keep their head cool. An adjustable chin strap keeps it in place.
Cooling bandana: A cooling bandana for dogs is an easy way to offer your pup some relief from the heat. Simply add water, secure around your dog's neck and let the evaporation effect occur. Your pup won't even notice they're wearing it!
Updated ID tag: Check that your dog's ID tag and microchip are updated with your latest phone number before hiking. If you become separated, this information will make it easy for a rescuer to reunite you with your dog.
4. Bring the right supplies
Your dog isn't the only one who needs to have the proper dog hiking gear for a comfortable experience . There are also a few key things that you should wear and pack to make it easier to manage your pup on the trail. Here's a list of what we recommend:
Dog walking fanny pack: Why dig around in a daypack when you can fit all the essentials in a compact fanny pack and have everything you need at your fingertips? The Everything Fanny Pack can hold a standard-sized water bottle and has plenty of space for your phone, keys, and other essentials. It even has a built-in poop bag dispenser! Best of all, fanny packs are back in style, so you won't have to feel even one bit of shame about loving yours so much!
Handsfree Dog Walking Kit: Many people wonder if dogs really need special hiking gear. Bringing the right dog leash makes handling your dog easier and ensures their safety. You can adjust the Utility Leash to different lengths, and it has a padded handle to ensure your comfort. It can also be attached to the versatile Utility Dog Walking Belt for hands-free walking!
Emergency kit: It's likely overkill for most hikes, but packing a canine first aid kit is a good idea, especially if you're headed somewhere remote or on a long hike.
5. Leave no trace
You should always pick up after your dog, even out in the forest. Not only does this leave the trail clean for other hikers, but it's also what's best for the environment. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, canine waste can contribute to contaminated water, deplete the oxygen in water, and ultimately disrupt delicate ecosystems. Some trails have trash cans throughout the hike where you can easily dispose of the waste.
Clip a poop bag dispenser to your dog's leash, so they're always on hand when you need them!
6. Be aware of potential hazards
Hiking with your dog could expose them to different hazards than the two of you typically encounter closer to home. Do some research on your local area so you're aware of any potentially harmful plants, such as poison ivy or foxtails that might cause itching or become embedded in your dog's skin or nostrils.
Try to prevent your dog from drinking out of water sources they encounter on the trail as they could be contaminated and cause an upset stomach or worse.
You should also educate yourself on any wild animals living in the area and the safety protocols for encountering them. When hiking with your dog, consider keeping them leashed to prevent them from running off after a deer or becoming entangled with a coyote.
Hiking with your dog is a fantastic way to exercise and take in new surroundings. Researching your local area and taking care to pack the right gear will help the two of you have a safe and enjoyable time on the trail!